Google Maps researcher explains why there shouldn’t be a ‘Scenic’ option

Bristol Virginia

Kasey Klimes, a researcher who worked on Google Maps took to Twitter to explain why the popular app probably won’t be getting a ‘Scenic Route’ feature anytime soon.

The reasoning is that any scenic route would be subjective and contribute to income inequality, or as Klimes put it spatial inequality. Google would have to first establish what would make a route scenic, architecture, greenery, and other markers would probably be used to create this setting.

However as it stands, the more scenic route is most likely to be the more affluent route. This means Google Maps users who would select the more “scenic” route would be unintentionally exacerbating income inequality between neighborhoods.

As it is right now, Google Maps suggests the fastest route and the route that will spend less gas when taking traffic and elevation into account. Both these factors are objective and easy to identify. While Klimes himself claimed that the Scenic route feature is one he would love, it would take a lot of effort to create this tool ethically and responsibly.

Tech has historically showcased the biases of its engineers and developers, even unintentionally. Famous examples like individuals with darker skin tones being “invisible” to soap and paper towel dispensers are often one of the first to be mentioned. As technology and artificial intelligence get more advanced, developers feel the need to be cautious with how their products interact with society at large.

Critics of Klimes opinion claim that the decision against building it is a form of social engineering. Meanwhile Klimes seems to imply that actually building it would be the more egregious act of social engineering.

This is Niche Gamer Tech. In this column, we regularly cover tech and things related to the tech industry.


A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

Where'd our comments go? Subscribe to become a member to get commenting access and true free speech!